By: Nate Leer
2 weeks week I broke down the least productive offensive position in fantasy basebsall: catchers. As we move around the horn, the next position up for discussion is at the opposite end of the spectrum: first basemen.
1B offers the highest number of elite power bats and potential bargains to be had late in the draft for cheap pop. The any of the top 4 at 1B can be argued to be the best at the position and the rest of the top 10 had great 2016s as well. If your league has 1 or 2 DH or Utility spots, adding a 2nd 1B to your lineup can reap powerful rewards whether it is a second elite bat or a later flier. It is likely that most teams will have 2 1B on their roster so knowing where the best values are 15-20 players deep at the position is important.
Here are the top 20 1B for 2017 drafts:
1. Miguel Cabrera – Det: Miggy is still the most consistent, dominant bat in baseball. His elite power outweighs Goldy’s speed, good to great average separates him from Rizzo and his track record makes him a better bet than the rest of the field. Until he actually starts to fade in health and/or production, bet on the best hitter of this generation.
2. Paul Goldschmidt – Ari: Goldy checks all of the boxes as an elite fantasy force. While he didn’t hit a ton of HRs last year, he stole enough bases to actually be a difference maker. Any uptick in power this year along with 20+ steals could make him the #1 player in fantasy baseball.
3. Kris Bryant (3B/OF) – ChiC: Many fantasy players may think Bryant should be higher on this list but I actually struggled with whether he or Rizzo should be in the 3 spot. Bryant’s versatility tipped the scales for me but I always worry about betting the house on a player with a short track record, no matter how heralded (see Brice Harper). That said, the kid is a stud and drafting him early gives an owner the priceless flexibility of slotting him in as a 1B, 3B or OF.
4. Anthony Rizzo – ChiC: The Riz is the ultimate team leader and ball player but don’t underestimate his fantasy value. Rizzo has excellent power, will not hurt your average, bats in one of the best slots in baseball and will steal a base from time to time. He is young enough to still improve and any uptick in his average makes him as good of an asset to own as anyone.
5. Joey Votto – Cin: Votto had an incredible year but he had always been fragile sohe is a great value get if he drops a bit.
6. Freddie Freeman – Atl: Atlanta talent evaluators expect the kind of performance Freeman had last year to be the norm, not the exception. If you agree, he makes a great low 2nd or early 3rd round pick.
7. Daniel Murphy (2B) – Was: Murph’s greatest value is as a 2B but he still qualifies as a top 10 1B.
8. Edwin Encarnacion – Cle: Easy-E may see a bit of a regression in overall numbers in a lesser hitter’s park but he has been too good for too long to get too worried.
9. Jose Abreu – ChiW: Abreu is reportedly a candidate to be traded as is fellow Sox corner IF Frazier. If either goes, it could hurt the production of the player left behind as their big bats protect each other. As long as both stay or Abreu goes to a better lineup, expect Abreu to be a top 10 1B again.
10. Hanley Ramirez – Bos: HanRam had a nice resurgence after the BoSox got him out of the OF. However, he has not been a consistent producer throughout his career and the loss of Big Papi makes him a focal point for opposing pitchers. Only draft as a value pick.
11. Wil Myers (OF) – SD: Myers is in a bad hitter’s park and a bad lineup. However, all of that was true last year and he progressed as a power hitter. He is young enough to project continued improvement so he could be a nice value pick.
12. Ian Desmond (OF) – Col: Desmond is expected to play 1B although he is only OF eligible in most leagues right now. Moving to Denver and Coors Field offers one of the few better offensive situations than he was in in Texas so his numbers could be even better than last year.
13. Matt Carpenter (3B/2B) – StL: Carp is supposed to be a full time 1B this year which could help his health and power production. He is more valuable at one of the other positions he is eligible for but is a serviceable 1B for fantasy purposes.
14. Carlos Santana – Cle: Santana had a big year last year and handled the leadoff role very well for Cleveland. Expect more of the same this year.
15. Todd Frazier (3B) – ChiW: Another player who has more value at another position for your fantasy team but offers tremendous power.
16. Chris Davis – Bal: Super power but likely to be a drag on your batting average.
17. Kendrys Morales (OF) – Tor: Morales is a great later round pick. He is eligible at multiple positions and moves from a decent situation to a GREAT one in the Toronto lineup and ballpark.
18. Eric Hosmer – KC: Hosmer finally hit over 20 HRs but it cost him in average. When drafting, one has to decide if he can put it all together or will be a liability in a key category as a 1B.
19. Victor Martinez – Det: Victor had a good bounceback year but you have to wonder if he can stay healthy and whether the end is near as he approaches 40.
20. Albert Pujols – LAA: Pujols makes the top 20 because he still has some upside IF he gets healthy. As JJ Benz discussed last week in his early draft values post, Pujols can be had very late in drafts and is worth the gamble if you have a DL spot in your league.
Other 1Bs to consider with late picks: Greg Bird – NYY, Lucas Duda – NYM, Mike Napoli – Tex, Adrian Gonzalez – LAD, Mitch Moreland – Bos, Tommy Joseph – Phi, Josh Bell (OF) Pit, Brandon Belt – SF.